In Term 2 for our class, we’ve studied many different kinds of texts, played with different techniques in writing, and worked on building skills.
We studied the graphic novel The Breadwinner.
students had to use visual inference skills a lot to make sense of the storyline since there wasn’t as much text and dialogue
students wrote first-person letters as and to a character from the storyline.
Each student chose their own novel to read – most chose a book different from others and one group picked the same book to read together.
They read during class and would do short Summary activities like:
Socrative Responses to share initial impressions or describe their book’s setting
Quick Write activities to practice writing skills without overthinking the content (needs to be consistent/sustained writing for a set period of time – 8 mins)
and moved on to Formal Literary Paragraph Writing with supports that broke the process down step by step
That paragraph writing eventually developed into formal essays in Google Docs with formative feedback so they could become stronger writers.
They practiced some creative writing & visual fun with Five-Step Stories. Students picked a random image for the Intro, 3 images for the middle, and 1 image for the end of a hypothetical story. Then another student had to come up with a storyline to match the random images. It was worth some laughs.
We also started a unit focusing on Search for Self – students learned (or reviewed) Figurative Devices used for creative wordplay in poetry.
They developed some of their own with Six-Word Memoirs that they then formatted in a visual design using the Canva website.
They read through together a new-to-them format of texts – novels written in prose form (poems). While we read through them together, students anonymously submitted Observations through a Socrative open-answer activity.
They also tested their skills in identifying these plays-on-words (figurative devices) by a group competition activity – to see which group could wrack up the most points for devices found in a poem.
We then watched a movie called A Monster Calls which none of them had seen and was the most wonderful movie; it brought on a lot in our discussions.
They tracked the things they observed in the film as they watched (character influences, foreshadowing, development of tension, motivation of characters, etc)
And then got into some smalldiscussiongroups to talk through a number of a bank of questions to pick from.
Most recently, they’ve been working to develop a poetry multimedia video from a poem of their choosing. They had to develop an emotional reading of the poem, find media (video, images, sound effects) to include, as well as pick appropriate background music to help set the tone. They used different video-making programs that mostly work in similar fashions. They focused on improving their use of:
staggering the layers of media they used (so an image and sound didn’t start at the same time)
including a clear beginning and end to their projects
using transitions between the media sources
tweaking sound volumes, fading in and out
using text overlay
studying their project for the details of style
They’re improving their writing by many writing activities, because more writing makes better writers. And we’ve had a lot of great discussions analyzing ideas and literary themes.
Tone is the mood developed in a story. By the events and language the author uses in the story, how is it intending to make readers feel? Tone is expressed as an “emotion”; if your tone answer isn’t an emotion, a feeling, you’ve misunderstood tone. Examples of tone include:
The “young troublemaker” (someone struggling to find their way) and an “elder mentor” (who can share wisdom) storyline – a common archetype, such as:
Dumbledore & Harry Potter
Obi-Wan Kenobi & Luke Skywalker
Mr. Miyagi & Daniel LaRusso
Mufasa & Simba
Master Shifu & Po
Genie & Aladdin
Example films:St. Vincent with Bill Murray. Older person less connected to others in society spends time with a younger person who could use a mentor in their life. Or Dennis the Menace, if you know that film!
Symbolism in literature – a refresher.
In literature, writers can often develop more meaning within the story by using a concept or object that comes to also represent other ideas. This is used in the story “The Rink”.
Examples of Symbolism developed in texts like Animal Farm and Macbeth:
Pg 4: Comprehension Questions for Text #1
Pg 5-6 Practice Integrating references into writing
Pg 7: Parent-child relationships: Text #2
a moment/memory that lasts for a child
Pg 8 What to watch for in this short story (active reading)
Flashbacks in Writing
Visual Example from the short story “Home Place”. The text in yellow is all flashback – the development of tension in the story all comes from past interactions between characters, instead of using current interactions to create that tension. All the text coloured in Purple (see pic below) is a flashback in this story. You’ll recognize the Present events of the story begin and end this story, but the bulk of tension exists is developed as past memories. (This is an ELA A30 text.)
If you recall, when you did the Childhood Mapping Activity, it hopefully trigger memories for you of when you were a child. That’s one of the enjoyable parts of this Course – the nostalgia it brings up of some of the happy experiences in your childhood development.
This next section aims to continue that process, specifically this initial beginning, by remembering what it was like during storytime.
What was it like being read to as a child? Do you remember?
For example, it may have included:
lots of picture books
a comfortable location you and an adult usually settled in for reading
some favourite books you listened to over and over
an adult who may have read with character voices or sound effects
lots of interesting visuals and illustrations in the books, for a child to fixate on while they listened to the story
animals or non-living things that took on life or mystical/magical elements in the stories, like fairies or princesses cursed by witches
Unknown to you, it may also have included some darker, scarier elements, like in the fairytales where the parents took their kids to the forest so they could leave them there where a witch catches them, fattens them up, so she can eat them!
A memory of mine from youth – attending Reading Time at the Saskatoon Frances Morrison Library. There was a children’s reading room we had to duck under a small door to get into.
To try to trigger for you what it felt like to sit and watch someone read to you a picture book, listen to the audio linked below: it includes our intro thoughts to this section and reading of the Big Ideas.